Of Craft and Art

In my head and on my wall.

A few words to my friends and followers,

I will start with Thank You.

I believe life is divided into five elements that combine to create culture. The impetus for my blog/content/rage into the wind was to explore and express those elements in words and images. Substack has provided the perfect platform for me to make the attempt. 

It looks like this and you can read more here

Life / Food + Music + Art + Craft + History = Culture (L/5e=C)

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I feel fortunate that I have earned a consistent readership, including a dozen that are paying me for this service. The gratitude that I feel from that simple fact is what keeps me creating, writing and posting. 

At the start, Substack being new, most of the writers (many first-timers like me) were discovering the subscription model and figuring out how it works for their own situation. Even highly successful writers, lured by six-figure advances, were experimenting with paywalls, and splitting content between paid and free. 

I decided on the paid/free split of content. And then, it seems almost all the writers were fooling around with timing and schedule, and too much or too little content. Some readers said slow down and others said speed up. I started feeling some anxiety about writing, which I had never felt in my life. 

Not so much about the writing, but the timing, and the pay, the stats and numbers. I didn’t get into this to increase my anxiety. So, I am going to stop creating anxiety for myself. Here’s how.

I am removing the paywall for free/paid subscribers. All of my writing will be posted without a paywall and available for free. Part of the anxiety was feeling that the paid content had to be something “more” than the free. Which made it less. 

That started making the posts compete with each other and I had this weird feeling that the free content was a red-headed step-child. (I know how that feels!) 

Instead, I will focus on writing. And you can focus on reading. Occasionally (like now) I will ask those who enjoy my content for free to consider a financial contribution to my cause. As always, sharing grows my potential audience. So thank you!

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The end of the government cheese is rapidly approaching, but in karmic response, more opportunities are unfolding before me. I successfully re-acquired my real estate appraisal license and have begun the on-boarding process to start completing appraisals as an independent contractor. 

Earnings for my writing here and for freelance assignments has exceeded $1500 in just over six months. I just completed the most lucrative woodcraft commission piece that paid $500 (more on that piece later in this post). I have about $2000 in the pipeline for that stream. 

An exciting business opportunity has also presented itself in the form of partnering with my uncle and a friend I’ve known for over 30 years. As that situation becomes clearer I will no doubt have a few words to share with you about it. 

One of the ideas is to combine three respective email lists and ask all of them if they are  interested in a newsletter discussing the concerns of our businesses: real estate, investments, restaurants and more.

I say all that to come to this point: one of my income streams is this platform. I find myself having gone through a wormhole of space and time. I have been working from home since March 16, 2020. Over 500 days. 

Where I stand now is a lifetime away from where I left. Yeah, I am in the same house, at the same desk, on the same laptop. But I am not in the same place. And going back is impossible. The wormhole has closed. I stand here on my own, but not alone. 

You have been my traveling companions on this journey. I couldn’t have made it without you. But here is where I ask that you decide to support me financially. If I am worth it. I have made a decision to financially support five writers here on Substack, at $5 per month. 

Substack takes a 10% cut to manage the thing, so every $5 monthly subscription results in a $4.03 hit into my account. I must admit, when I get a notification of that, it is so much more rewarding than a “like” notification on any other platform. 

You will see the buttons. I place them there for your convenience. Wink-wink

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Thanks. I’ll shut up now and write!


Life / Food + Music + Art + Craft + History = Culture (L/5e=C)

Art is the middle child of the elements and Craft is Art’s little brother. Art is expressionistic and realistic and impressionistic and narcissistic and nihilist. Craft tends to be rigid and intense and structured and unforgiving and direct. 

Think Picasso and Greene and Greene. Sous Chef and Pastry Chef. Fine Art Painter and Fine House Painter. And all of that is important and needed, to provide balance. The most functional object simultaneously contains and displays beauty and utility. Effortlessly and seamlessly. 

Some may ask, uh, where’s writing? Everywhere. In all of the elements. It is the foundation of human civilization, and undergirds each element. 

In our house, we have many objects of Art. I wanted to share some of them with you, and tell their stories. I’m also going to show you a Craft project I have been working on. Let’s take a look. 

THE BULLFIGHTER

This hangs above the toilet in our downstairs guest bathroom. I drew this Bullfighter and Bull in 1977. I was in 7th Grade. I carried it around to at least 20 or 25 houses during my lifetime. It had never hung on a wall. It remained rolled up inside a tube, and, later, with no tube. 

It has creases, wrinkles, folds, holes, chew marks, tattered edges and myriad other battle scars. But it stands proudly and is not faded. It is hard to resist my affection for metaphor when describing this picture. Or am I describing myself? 

I drew it in Art Class at Koogler Junior High in Aztec NM. I’m not sure I remember the emotions I felt or why I chose this particular image. I imagine now, because that year was particularly chaotic, I’d like to channel that feeling from my 13-year-old-self. 

The Bullfighter is majestic and calm. The Bull is raging and charging. The atmosphere is agitated and unstable. The outcome remains unknown.

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RED, WHITE, BLUE

This piece of Art was created by The Oldest in 4th grade. She is now 27 and headed to NYU to earn her Master’s in Urban Planning. The words she wrote as a little girl have brought incredible meaning to our family. Even more so now than ever before. 

This daughter has always been the egalitarian of the family, following in the footsteps of her mother. Her consistency in this belief and attitude weaves itself throughout her life. She served in the Peace Corps, spending 2.5 years in Guatemala. 

She just finished a stint working with the migrant children, many of them from Guatemala. Her descriptions of the stories these children told about their lives and journeys here are heart-breaking and anger-inducing. I won’t touch this other than to say this ranks up there with the most inhumane set of actions a government has ever perpetrated upon a people. 

It has always hung in a place of significance in our houses, and it now hangs on the staircase landing in a place of honor. It commands attention and respect by all who gaze at it.

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BLUE SUN

The Youngest had to take an art class in 9th or 110th grade for an elective, and this was the shining result. She is the athlete in the family, and I would describe her talents more suited for Craft than Art. 

But I love this piece of Art she created. She has never been the conventional thinker. Trying to show her how to play with wooden blocks as a toddler, she balked at building up. But they’re blocks! They go up! 

No Daddy. She proceeded to create a wooden-block snake that “crawled” from her room throughout the house. Hmmm, this kid was strange. Takes after me in some ways.

She is headed to Emmanuel in Boston for her senior season as a softball-playing student-athlete. We’re praying for a normal college year for her, which would be her first!

The vibe I get from this is pretty dark, and she has described it that way. When I look at it though, I feel what it really is doing is shining up the dark inside of me. It makes me feel better in that way. 

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WHEN DOVES FLY

Yeah, HUGE Prince fan here. Not. Painted by The Wife’s Sister in an Art club she belongs to, The Wife rescued it from the trash bin on a visit to The Sister’s house. 

As explained by The Sister, “I also belong to a cookie club, and my cookies always come out better than this!” I could agree with that assessment, being a HUGE fan of her cookies. 

This piece has grown on me over the time it has hung on the staircase wall. It’s as impressionistic as a realist can get I think. The colors and lines reach out to me, and the shades and shading create some mystery. 

It’s an image that we’re all so familiar with, yet this painting makes me question what it is that I have been seeing? 

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CRAFT - WINE HUTCH RESTORATION 

By far my biggest project to date. It came to me as a 1980’s relic, covered by several layers of Maple Shellac. It’s White Oak beauty was hidden until several hours of sanding revealed it. (Creepy weird factoid: Shellac is made from  the secreted bodily fluids of a scaled insect from Asia).

I purchased the lattice and Traeger cutting board, but the rest is found-wood. The “W” pattern wood is Red Oak I discovered abandoned next to the dumpster. What a shame! Techniques included wood carving and burning. It created itself in that I just let the wood express itself. 

A Bluetooth light bulb that responds to music is the final touch. The client was overjoyed, and said it far exceeded her expectations! That’s what it’s all about. 

¼ INCH-OFF WOODCRAFT

Custom Found-Object Art

Upcycle to create

Create to elevate

Elevate to inspire

Hopefully, this post leaves you feeling inspired to find something, create something, do something. Something is always better than nothing, especially now.

The rage-cycle will never stop and will be there after you walk away for a while. When I am creating in my shop, my brain is focused but my mind wanders. The thoughts I think and the feelings that surface are a surprising and welcome upgrade from the chaos and control.

Keep Creating!

Ric

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